Eric.

I was almost nineteen when I met Eric he was forty seven.

I had a daughter who was sixteen months old and I was almost three months pregnant.

I had just come back to my hometown.

After running away from my abusive husband from the north of England Id gone to stay with friends in west Wales

I’d began to relax until he knocked on the door of the flat I was staying in.

I remember how loud my heart had sounded banging i my head as I heard him banging on the door.
He had found us.

It was no use fighting him

He dragged me down two flights of stairs by my hair.

My daughter in my arms

His eyes were wild

He spat at me beat me and made me feel worthless my life was a mess.

It was a five hour drive home. I nursed my baby girl stared out of the window

Soon the green mountains of wales became the red brick council houses of the estate where I grew up.

I was back as I got out of the car my father walked across from his house. Swaying smell of beer and cigarettes.The reason is left home was him but as my Nan said I’d jumped out of the frying pan into the fire.

“You’ve made your bloody bed lie in it.” He hissed I was numb. No one could save us.

After a week back home and another argument with my husband I’d wrapped up my daughter in her pram and gone out to walk around the estate where we lived to get her to sleep.

It was an old burgandy corduroy tansad pram heavy and sturdy it was a windy afternoon so I put the hood up and walked past the woods wind blowing my long hair.

I walked down to the bottom shops then back.up past the church

The vicar was mowing the grass of his big house next to st David’s he stopped and smiled.

Feeling arkward I put my head down carried on walking Cheryl was asleep tiny rosebud lips and long eyelashes she was perfect I hated the way we lived but I didn’t have anywhere else to go I’d tried women’s hostels, Wales but he always found me.

Where would it end I thought as I pulled the pram up the steps to the house.I pushed the tansad into the living room.

It was quiet quicky opened the pram scooped Cheryl into my arms and stealthily tip toed upstairs placing her into her cot gently covering her up shushing her as I shut the bed room door behind me .

Rushing back down stairsThere is a huge bang.

I jump as he begins to shout.I pathetically beg him to stop.Please don’t .

You’ll wake the baby .

The smell of whisky hits me first

Then his fist.

My head hits the post at bottom of the stairs

I struggle to my feet.

Taste of iron in my mouth

I’m still begging him thinking of my baby in her cot.

I have to keep him down stairs .He has me by the hair .

Snarling at me spit showering my face as he opens the front door to throw me out.

Im thrown out of the door onto the concrete path hands scraping scrambling to get up

To get back inside to my baby .

His back is to me he is walking into the living room where I have left the pram.

I watch in horror as he picks it up and launches it through the large living room window.

In slow motion it lands on its hood 20 minutes before my baby was in it.

He hadn’t know that I’d taken her out.He could have killed her.

I’m trying to stop him going upstairs.

I’m hitting him he’s laughing

Then suddenly there at the open front door is the man who has recently moved in across the road.

He looks calm as he tells me to come away.

Stand here he says by me.

It’s sureal.

Jeff looks startled.Who the fuck are you ?

Get out of my house .

Still the man from across the road stands firm.

I move towards himIs this how you treat your women up here?

He’s saying.My husband swings for the man.

Eric he says to me.

I’m Eric.

He hits my husband and throws him into the living room that’s covered in splintered glass.

The pram in the garden where is your baby?

Upstairs I sob.

He hits Jeff again

He is curled up in a ball.

Our dog is barking

Come on then Eric is saying or don’t you hit men?

He picks Jeff up and throws hm down the path

A police car pulls up and a familiar lady police officer gets out .

She looks at me I look at the floor.

Jeff is shouting about Eric atacking him.”The police officer puts her hand on my arm did he do this ?”

We’ve been here before she asks I say no because if I say yes Jeff has told me he will kill me.

Yes I stutter.

Yes he did and he attacked Eric.

Jeff runs at me .

Police man grabs him throws him against the car.

Bloody maniac Eric’s saying.

Can we take you to hospital she asks?

I’ll take her says Eric.

Is that okay she asks

Yes I say I’m going to be okay.

Because I know I will now.

That was the very beginning.He was 28 years older than me.

Just come back to his home town after a broken marriage and a break down.

He knew how afraid and vunerable I was

He helped me pick up glass board up windows

Change locks.Then he slept on my sofa

Supported me to get back on my feet.

He would wake me singing cliff Richard living doll.

You can’t have another baby he said to me gently after a week

You can’t look after yourself.

Your only a few months if you tell the hospital about the beatings they will help.I was horrified.

I’m keeping my baby I sobbed.

Then I’ll help you he smiled.

He took me to anti natal

Drove me to appointments.

Stayed in my house.Is he your Dad?

The midwife asked.No he’s Eric was all I could say.

I was still terrified of anything happening to my daughter.

I refused to have my baby in hospital.

It’s dangerous my doctor warned it’s a big baby.

I’ll be there said Eric I’ll.look after you.I moved to the other side of town new start

Eric had bought a van and had started a furniture removal business.

I had a lovely little house Eric was still poping in and out he put up fences layed a lawn created a beautiful garden.

Cheryl started nursery life was better.

When I woke early hours of morning 7th August 1986 I phoned Eric first then the midwife.

I’m scared I told him as I opened the door.

He kissed my forehead you can do this and again I knew I was going to be okay.

The midwifes and my doctor came Eric held me as I pushed my beautiful baby boy into the world he was 12lb 9oz’

Put the chip pan on for this lad he’s got a tooth!’

Laughed my doctor.Well done

I looked at Eric tear running down his cheek

Come here to your Dad he said as he held my baby.

In that second an unbreakable bond was madeEric had saved me when he had come back from stoke on Trent

He was a good man

My daughter held her new brother and named him Matthew.

Followed a few years later by Michael.

Eric idolised each of my children and they him

Who was it who said blood is thicker than water never met Eric.

Our children grew up we went our separate ways but aways remained friends

Matthew met and married a Belfast girl.

Eric by this time was 76

Michael would go to stay with Eric take him fishing help him around the house.

Cheryl would stay in the school holidays with her daughter. He was her dad from the minute he walked into our door as she slept in her cot upstairs.

He couldn’t have loved her and the boys any more than he did.

He started to shows signs of dementia.

Which over five years got worse.

He still lived in the family home he had come back to all those years before .He needed help now

It was decided Matthew would take him to Ireland.

To a purpose built dementia unit atound corner from his house erics own flat.

It broke Cheryl and mike’s heart to see him go but I know it was the best decision.

I went over last week to see them.

My six foot son helping his Dad walk slowly with his walking frame.

I remembered Eric proudly pushing Matthew in his pram.

That big man who saved us.

There with the baby he had held minutes after he was born

That’s what makes a dad.

Not blood but love.

Thank you Eric we saved each other x

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Pit wheel turns

Gazing into the flames she sees the pictures that are there
Rocking slowly rhythmically in her old rocking chair.
Memories start to dance and flicker within the flames .
There amongst the burning coals she sees the faces and their names
Like a fiery cine film she sees the thriving old pit town
The sound of the mines whistle as the cage go up and down.
As it summons men to go underground and to leave their wives
While the pit wheel goes on turning like the seasons of their lives.
Alun and violet she smiles even their names seem to fit.
Black diamonds, coal face, blue scars, black lined eyes all delivered by the pit
He was a miner -a grafter -a good man and he was her’s.
Broad strong shoulders, dark hair blue eyes, with a wink and a whistle–warmer than the warmest furs.
She had worked in the post office and soon she was his girl.
They married in the chapel. Reception in the miners club. He had won himself a pearl
lads from the pit singing together the wives brought food and drink
they were a community, a family, the pit and shared hardships forming the link
They had saved and bought their cottage in the village, solid stone and thatch

Sash windows–sweet smell of rosemary and a vegetable patch
white sink by the garden gate smelling of rosemary.
He dug for coal all week and potatoes on a Sunday happy that it should thus be.
He’d take her to the club on a Saturday night. Wearing dresses she had made
The pit wheel turned, the miners mined and earned what they were paid.
She baked Welsh cakes and plate pies and watched as he taught the kid next door
how to fix his bike. Make a cart–and so very much more
He would have been a good dad but it was not to be,
so it was just the two of them–a small sad tragedy.
Caravan holidays-a small car visits to see her sister in the city. Life moves on.
The pit wheel stops–and suddenly all of it is all gone
A deathly silence–no whistle–no club and then, no post office too
She worries he will be lost. What is there for him to do
He still winks and whistles he fixes cars does the odd jobs he can find
She is still his girl they have each other, in that nature has been kind
The seasons turn and t
hey grow older, people move away–with no reason to stay.
The town seems to be smaller their lives grow smaller too
Same grey hair same blue eyes milky now with age, and the work scars are still blue.
She rocks as she cries silent tears watching–reruns of their beautiful life.
A successful combination–a loving husband and a loving wife
She thinks she’s hears a pit wheel turn the memory make her cry
She cries for him, h
e has just gone through the door no wink no kiss goodbye
He has turned off the light–forgetting she was sitting there
forgetting who she is and who they are and suddenly life is so unfair
She rocks closes her eyes–knowing she will remember for the pair

Raven Wordsmith 🖤

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